Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Library: Brooklyn Heights
Genre: Young Adult

Samantha Kingston is a typical teenager. Super popular "mean girl" who has a few besties that she does everything with. Until one night, they get into a car crash and Samantha dies. Don't worry, I didn't ruin the story for you. That's the whole point. This story is told from the moment after Sam dies. She gets to live her last day of life over and over until she gets it right.

Loved this book. My only complaint is that there were moments that dragged. Since it was written in first person, it was hard to imagine Sam growing up so fast and using such poetic language, right at the beginning. I actually found myself hating her and her friends right away before I realized that we're supposed to hate her...

We're supposed to go inside her mind on the journey that made her who she was and who she'd never become. I fell in love with Kent, the quirky guy with the checkered sneakers and bright green eyes. I wanted Sam to fall in love with him too, and right away. I was disgusted by Rob, Sam's trophy boyfriend who she crushed on for years before he would actually date her. I found the character, Lindsay, the leader of her pack, to be so complex yet so simple. I enjoyed seeing her become undone and put back together again. Ally and Elody rounded the story out as good sidekicks with some substance.
Best of all were the seemingly small characters that ended up playing huge roles in Samantha's growth. I also loved the story of Juliet "Psycho", "Mellow Yellow" Sykes. Without giving too much away, remember that Oliver is the type of author that goes into extreme detail for a reason.

The action packed parts made up for any dull moment you had to read through. Definitely recommend.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book review: The City of Ember

The City of Ember is run solely on a generator underground. It powers the lights that turn on an off at specific times. But there is a rumor that they're running out of lightbulbs. With the threat of permanent darkness on the horizon, the community is on edge.

And that's the summary I came up with for that one. Of course I could talk about the main characters and the dystopian feel to the novel, but I'd just like to point out a few things that I kinda liked about the book. For one, it's pretty obvioius what the big secret is right away. But that doesn't take away from the story. You want to see how it all ends for them, what their reaction will be to the mystery of where their town is. I might read some of the others in the series just to follow the story. There's was also a movie a couple years back based on the book. Go figure!

Not gonna lie, I skimmed through a bunch of the slow moving parts. But for all it's worth, if you have nothing else to read, check this one out.

Library Thursday Blog Hop Welcome Page!

What is Library Thursday?
Library Thursday is a weekly blog hop that I've started to:
1. Encourage people to support their libraries when they can
2. Meet new bloggy friends and grow your following

If you're anything like me and you can't always get new books each week & you don't get a bunch of ARCs delivered to you, this is a great hop for you! If you DO get new books and ARCs each week, this is also a great hop.

Don't forget about the library!

How to participate:
  • Create a Library Thursday post with a list, pictures or a vlog of your books. Grab my button if you like it and include it in your post! Make sure to shout the library out that you went to!
  • Once you've created your post, link it to my linky at the bottom of my weekly post
  • Hop around to the other blogs participating and check out what other people are reading. Be sure to leave them a comment to let them know you were there, this is about making friends as well!
Thanks for your interest in the hop. Let's see where it goes!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book hiatus

Hey guys! I hope you've been having a great end of summer and are getting ready for the change of season. Apparently NYC weather has decided to give us all a preview. I've been ridiculously busy with work and things so I haven't been able to read through things as quickly as I would like. I have had some time to put a hold on the 2 books I was talking about in a previous post as last minute Summer reads!

In other news, on my way to LI the other day, I found a book that belonged to one of the NYPL's all the way up in the Bronx. So I took it upon myself to return the book to the library for the poor soul who lost it! INSTANT KARMA POINTS!!!!

Happy reading!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Midnight by Sister Souljah

This was one of the suggested books for summer reading at the library. I was excited to read it because it was the prequel to one of the few "urban interest" books that I actually liked as a teenager (The Coldest Winter Ever). I cracked it open and was already offset by the language. This is totally not how a man speaks. It is clearly written by a woman who thinks she has some sort of grasp on the way men think and speak.

Another thing that I just couldn't stand about it was the disgust for Black Americans. There's nothing awesome about Black people living in the 'hood and I'm not at ALL defending that lifestyle, but the character "Midnight" seemed like he didn't notice any other type of Black person. I could barely read through it without skimming. I was about 100 pages in and had to put it down.

I did love when he fell in love with the Japanese girl and his reverence for his mother. I actually fell in love with her myself when he used phrases like "Umma and her exquisiteness". Short of that though, I couldn't make it through and I don't suggest it to anyone to read.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

7 Beach Reads You Can Grab Off Your T(w)een's Bookshelf

Check out this cool link to some cool beach reads that are Young Adult Fiction but definitely worth reading! I've included pictures of two of the books I'd like to check out! See any you guys like???

7 Beach Reads You Can Grab Off Your T(w)een's Bookshelf

Book Review: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Library: Central Library (Brooklyn Public Library)
Genre: Youth Fiction

n the second and final installment of the Charlie Bucket series, Wonka and Charlie's family travel to space in the Glass Elevator from the Chocolate Factory. The idea is to fly high enough so that when they come down, they can have enough speed and force to get back into the ceiling of the factory. The elevator goes a little too high and end up in orbit. The story proceeds from there.

As someone who's seen the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory 231983744388.443 times, it was pretty cool to read the way Dahl intended his characters to be portrayed. I read that he was so upset with the way they did the movie that he wouldn't allow them to make the sequel. I couldn't imagine this being a movie anyway. It was a lot less interesting than the previous part of the story. I also kept imagining how it would look with the characters from the movie using bad 1970s special effects.

I've gotta say though, I almost feel like all the Presidential scenes seemed like a stab at the US government. I don't get all into politics, but he did make a bit of a farce with the eager to kill Chief of the Army ("Come on Mr. P, let's have some really super-duper explosions!), the Chief Financial Adviser's non-sensical method of balancing the US government:
He stood proudly in the middle of the room with the enormous two-hundred-billion-dollar budget balanced beautifully on top of his bald head.

Right on down to the racially insensitive, incompetent, hot-headed President. He runs the country with his Nanny as Vice President and doesn't make any of his own decisions.

I also found the "asian" dialect to be a tad racist for a children's book ("Gleetings honorable Plesident, here is Assistant-Pleimer Chu-On-Dat speaking") Also:
"It is very difficult to phone people in China, Mr. President...the country is so full of Wings and Wongs, every time you wing you get the wong number"

It wasn't all that funny to me, as it was probably meant to be. But I suppose this was written in the 70s where there were different standards.

All in all, it was an okay book. It seemed to revolve around the least interesting characters (the Grandparents in the bed). I didn't care for them previously and don't care to know about them now. A bit of a let down after the exciting and imaginative Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Review: Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

A killer is on the loose in a post 9/11 NYC.
He seems to be targeting the elite, hitting unlikely places for crime scenes (Fifth ave, the UES, fancy hotels & restaurants). Detective Michael Bennett is determined to catch this maniac before he strikes again. But the killer (self-dubbed The Teacher) is stealth, attractive and cunning. The polar opposite of a textbook murderous psychopath, The Teacher will only get caught if he decides to. Are these random slayings? Or is something else afoot?

This is the second in the Michael Bennett series and boy is it a page turner! I realized that I should've read the first in the series once I got about halfway through and noticed that there was barely any exposition. But I like jumping right in! There were so many cool things about this book. Especially the affinity the author seems to have toward music. I was especially excited when the murderer was "in such a good mood" that he started whistling through a Mozart aria (from Idomeneo for those of us in the know).

What made me the most happy was the very accurate depicition of New Yorkers and the town itself. From the written dialect, to our love for our superior bagels, to the New York Times headquarters moving it's location seemingly under our noses, to our inevitable traffic jams and the way we tend to keep to ourselves on public transportation. These are all minor details in the novel but major scene setting factors to me. I just cannot stand when an author doesn't take the time to find out which train station comes after another and which streets do not intersect. When I saw the movie Cloverfield, they walked through the tunnel on the 6 train from Spring St. and the next station was 59th and Lex. I just about threw my soda at the movie screen. Geez, you gotta be friggin kiddin' me! Hehe!

Seriously though, without giving you too many details, just like any of these Suspense Novels, you have to suspend some disbelief to fully enjoy it. Detective Bennett adopted and is raising 10 children with the help of his young Irish nanny. Completely unrealistic but this is Fiction for cryin' out loud! Nonetheless, I was very pleased and intend on reading plenty others by Patterson.

Run for Your Life is a high energy, quick paced book that you will not be able to put down.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Decisions, decisions!

Man oh man am I loving this book Run for Your Life. The pace is exactly what I like.

I'm about halfway through and am trying to decide whether or not I'd like to read another suspense novel right after or if I'd like to soften it up a bit with a novella or youth fiction book. I also am playing with the idea of reading a novel that might, possibly have something to do with a bit of...romance..!!! I've never tread down that path before but hey, there's a first time for everything!

Any suggestions? What are you guys reading this summer??

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review: Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Practicing the Piano by Peggy Gifford

Library: Clinton Hill Branch (Brooklyn Public Library)
Genre: Youth Fiction

Moxy Maxwell is back. This time, she has a huge piano recital and needs to get glamorous for it. She also needs to practice "Heart & Soul", the duet she's doing with her younger sister Pansy Maxwell. A small detail in the grand scheme of things, I mean, the audience is more concerned with what she's wearing. Right?

So I gave the series another shot. Of course this one is near and dear because it's about performing. And "Heart & Soul" is definitely the first duet I played on piano and I definitely performed this at a recital. I won't read another in the series because I still don't like the short chapters that seem to jerk to a halt entirely to quickly (Youth Fiction or not) and the humor makes me yawn a bit. My issue with these books is that I haven't seen them cast a Dad in a positive light. She portrays them as too concerned about their careers to pay attention to their family. But I'm just being picky.

For those of you still interested, the author is great at showing the Mother's strength (making 150 cupcakes in one day even after coming back from a last minute trip to Africa to help her twin sister who had an little accident), living with step-dads and the support system from siblings when you least expect it.

They should just make it a cartoon.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review: Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-you Notes by Peggy Gifford

Library: Clinton Hill Branch (Brooklyn Public Library)
Genre: Youth Fiction

Moxy Maxwell is getting ready for a big trip to Hollywood to see her dad for Christmas. The only thing is, she has to write 13 thank you notes for all the presents she's received before her and her family leave. Moxy comes up with a fool-proof way to expedite the process. Maybe.

Turns out that my first book for the Library Crawl Challenge is a Youth Fiction novel. I went to the library yesterday to look for some books to really give myself a jump start! I thumbed through a few and found a couple I thought I might learn from (as I am planning to write a Youth Fiction novel at some point). This one was a little difficult for me because I think it's a little bit out of the target audience I'm looking for in my book.There are definitely a lot of jokes to keep the adult who might be reading this along with the child interested, like a movie called Noah's Wife: The Untold Story or the brief mention of a guy named Ted Bear. I found the book to have silly moments and embarassing moments. I can't say that I'm a fan of the writing style or the main character. But I might need to save that judgement for if/when I read a few more from her series. It was "compelling" enough to keep me reading to find out how this would all end.

I would recommend this book for parents with not-too-young children who like to read, but I would not recommend this book for parents with not-too-young children who are easily influenced by what they read.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Library Crawl 2010 Challenge!

I haven't been to the library in a while, but normally, I'm there most of the days in a week. I'm lucky to live by one of the coolest libraries in Brooklyn: the Central branch at Grand Army Plaza .

Being the Frugalista that I am, I can only buy books from the discount section. And, there's not much space left in my little apartment (or should I say, my tiny bedroom) for me to add any more books. Lucky for me, many of these books are available at the library. In addition to saving myself some money, I can increase the traffic in the library and catch up on some serious reading. I've set a goal for 25 books borrowed (and read) from the library. I think this is a great challenge, so feel free to join me! I've added a link for you to grab a button to post on your blog and I listed some rules at the bottom of this post.

Happy Reading,

Rules for the challenge

1. Anyone, blogger or non-blogger, can participate.

2. If you intend on writing a review, please include the name of the library you borrowed from and post a link to their site if possible! (and let me know!)

3. If you don't receive a library fine for having it out, you've reached the BONUS ROUND! Well, just kidding, but try not to spend any of your money on fines : /

Click here for the list of books I've read for the challenge!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review: Messages by Stan Romanek

"My life has become one long Twilight Zone episode..." - Stan Romanek

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been rummaging through my house for books to read. I didn't have to look too much to find this one.

My dad bought this book the other day. He read through some of it but didn't really have the desire to read the rest. He likes books about UFOs but he prefers for them to be a list of facts. This book is written as a sort of Alien Encounter diary. I struggled with this book for a few chapters because of the writing style. It's almost a novel and the subject matter is very intriguing and mysterious. So when he'd throw in lines giving his opinion on the matter and leaving the rest up to you ("I'll leave it to the reader to decide") or when he'd show his absolute bewilderment at a situation, leaving the reader just as confused ("I assumed it was a top-secret military document, but how could I tell? I had never seen one before, and how easy would it be to produce something like that on a computer?...like most civilians I naturally accept that the military has all these exotic capabilities & covert tactics, but how could I really be sure?")

Get past all that and you've got yourself a pretty interesting read here. I personally am not so much into UFOs and the theories and things, but as stated in the title, he's got the most documented extraterrestrial contact story in the world.

Romanek states very plainly for us that he didn't grow up thinking about aliens. In fact, he scoffed at the idea of there being any sort of lifeforms outside of our own. All this began to change when he started seeing unexplainable air crafts drifting across the Nebraska skies. He had been video recording the breath-taking scenery to get his potential girlfriend to visit when something remarkable happened. After this event, it let Romanek down a road that many of us couldn't imagine in our wildest dreams. He and his family eventually anticipated bizarre happenings to occur. As does the reader. Just when you get used to the endless pattern of his sightings-abduction-regression-contact from people who are trying to stop him from talking about aliens-he hits us with the most fascinating information about his contact with other planets. Even if you are the most skeptical reader, you might want to check it out. It has about 44 chapters of 4-7 pages each so it flies by. And the language isn't difficult to understand (minus a few complex physics equations re: intergalaxy travel that haven't been discovered yet!)

This book is filled to the brim with abductions, equations, sightings and there are even pictures to go along with it. Whether or not these pictures appear to be real will be left to you to decide (haha, now I'm sounding like him!)

Books, books, everywhere!

I've visited a few pages here and there and everyone has these exciting buttons for reading challenges. I'm going to make my own challenge and read the books that are laying around my house! I could call it the..."Read What's Already In Your House..Challenge"!

Between my books and my Dad's books, I easily have plenty of books to finish the Summer off. I also have a bunch that people have let me borrow that I never really got around to reading. In fact, the last 3 books I've read have been things I had at home but looked over. Turns out I had some great ones right under my nose! I'm on to book 4 now and hopefully I will maintain the same luck that I've been having.

Happy reading!